The world’s whitest beach: Hyams In Jervis Bay

February 26, 2007

Jervis Bay holds a Guinness Book world record – for having the whitest beach in the world. I must admit, I was a tad sceptical. How could a small coastal beach have whiter sands than deserted tropical islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? I had to see this for myself.

Our walk along the beachesSo we decided to take a walk to Hyams Beach, of the snow white sand. It was a bit of a trek – but a very attractive one at that – through the beaches, over rocks, in the forests and finally reached the tarmac of the exclusive Hyams Beach resort town. It took us a good couple of hours to get to our destination and by the time we actually arrived, the weather was somewhat miserable and the colour of the beach sand had lost its glimmer.

The white sands in Hyams BeachI expected some sort of plague at least advertising this accolade but there was nothing like that. We did find a gorgeous deserted beach with sand as soft as satin and yes, it was very white. I can’t say whether it’s the whitest in the world, but I reckon it’s the softest and whitest I’ve ever seen.

We were starving by now, so we ambled to Hyams Beach Store – the one and only cafe (well at least what we could gather). The food looked delicious but we settled on yummy milkshakes.

We resisted hitchhiking back to Vincentia and rather walked back – finally reaching our self-catering oasis. We delved into the kitchen for cheese and tomato ‘sangers’ (sandwiches).

Our pasta dinnerIn the afternoon, we headed into Huskisson where we caught a movie at the Husky Cinema and then returned to Vicentia for a night of dvd’s and home-made pasta.


Edible Review: The Gunyah Restaurant at Paperbark Camp – Jervis Bay

February 24, 2007

One of my favourite parts of going away, is finding new and unusual places to eat. The NSW South Coast seemed to have heap of good restaurants, especially at the nearby winelands. After a little bit of searching, I came across the Paperbark Camp which featured suites in treehouses and a restaurant called Gunyah, which had got good reviews across the board. This was it!

Paperbark Camp is just outside Huskisson, about a 10 minute drive from Vincentia. We drove into the driveway and it really reminded me of a safari camp in South Africa. Climbing out the car, I inhaled the earthy smell of woodlands and admired the starglazed sky. This was a little piece of Africa in Australia – I loved in already.

Cheeky PossumGunyah is situated in a large wooden treehouse structure with stilts serving as foundations. You can sit on the verandah under the awning or as we did, just inside but close enough to be in cuddling distance with the family of possums sneaking along the balcony. They really are cute but naughty creatures and during the night they kept us amused with their food-stealing antics (the kids especially loved them). The staff shooed them away but in the playful way that you’d tell your pet dog to get off the kitchen table.

The decor was very African-chic with a large vase of proteas adding to the Afro-feel. The tables were white tableclothed with silver cutlery and the waitrons were attentive and professional (except for the end when our waitress obviously went off on her shift).

But the highlight was the food – absolutely yummy – possibly the best dinner I have had in Australia so far. The chef is an ex-surfer dude known as Gary Fishwick and obviously those years in saltwater did something right for his culinary skilled. This beach bum turned kitchen artiste is talented.

The menu changes regularly and you there are about five choices for starters, main and dessert. You choose one from each category at a cost of a very reasonable $60 per person.

The delicious Kangaroo filletFor starters, I had the seared kangaroo fillet with bush tomato chutney, rocket on a silky polenta base. Absolutely scrumptious. The kangaroo (which takes very similar to ostrich but slightly more gamey) was cooked to perfection and the combo of flavours was magic.

Ben enjoyed his stuffed zucchini flowers too.

For main, I had a superb chicken dish (I can’t really remember what it was) but I do recall that Ben had the speciality of fish wrapped in paperbark, which was juicy and so tasty. By the way, the paperbark trees (after which the camp is named) surround the restaurant and really do look as if the bark is peeling like paper.

Choc dessert at GunyahThen desert was this decdent chocolate cake with home made ice-cream. Ben had a more-ish passion fruit creme brulee.

We ambled very satisfied out of the restaurant. I will definitely be back – maybe next time I’ll try out the tree house suites.

Arrival in Jervis Bay – Vincentia

February 24, 2007

So after about a two and a half hour drive we arrived in Jervis Bay. The town where we were staying is called Vincentia, which was sandwiched between the exclusive Hyams Beach and the more local hangout of Huskisson.

As we turned into the road where our self-catering house lay, we were welcomed with a renegade ball flying out from a energetic game of street cricket. Our next door neighbours were celebrating Australia day traditionally with booze, alcohol and more booze. They were nicely merry by the time we pulled in and as they yelled for us to join their party, all hopes of a nice quiet weekend vanished in a second.

Bedroom at Corrinyah on Jervis BayThe house, Corrinyah on Jervis, is set literally steps away from the main Collingwood beach. It’s a wonderful upmarket beachhouse fully equipped with two bright bedrooms, nice kitchen, lounge with TV, dvd player and dvd’s and a remote controlled garage. The owners had even left us a welcoming letter, a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine and choccies. They also had a tourist pack filled with sugested activities and restaurants in the area. Well recommended.

We popped over to the local supermarket to get some supplies, then I explored the lovely beach – very untouched, long and white.

Next up – dinner in an Aussie safari style tree-house…..

A hope skip and jump to the beachThe beach is footsteps from the house

The journey to Jervis Bay – Kiama & Berry

February 24, 2007

For my first long weekend in Australia (which happened to be the very patriotic Australia Day), I was very keen to go away. I tried to get flights to Byron Bay but these were elevated in price beyond my budget (they were about quadruple their normal price).

So we decided to go a bit more local and head for the New South Wales (NSW) South Coast – and more specifically Jervis Bay. It took a little bit of research to organise accommodation here – I had to familiarise myself with the area plus find accommodation that would accept 2 night bookings (over long weekends, most places were insisting on 3 nights).

I landed up going through the booking agent – Sueanne was extremely helpful and efficient and soon I was booked into a self catering pad for $220 a night in a town called Vincentia.

The Blowhole SignBen and I left for Jervis bay on Friday afternoon. Our first stop was at Kiama, which is the site of the infamous blowhole. I have been hearing about this legendary natural phenomenon from my uncle Jules for ages. When my sister and her hubbie first arrived in Aussie, Jules took them for a daytrip just to see the blowhole. Sadly the blowhole never played the game and they remain sceptics that the blowhole every really blows.

When I told a friendly cabbie that I was going to Kiama and I heard the blowhole never blew, he almost blew up on me. He said that tourists only visit on nice, sunny days and clearly the blowhold is only going erupt when the sea is more tumultuous.

The Blowhole in ActionAnyway, we were lucky and guess what, the blowhole blew and believe me, it was worth the stop. It’s quite incredible to watch with volcano of water shoot from the bowels of the earth. Ben had to literally tear me away to get back onto the road.

Our next stop was in Berry. The main reason for the visit was to stop at the famous Sour Dough Bakery here. We may have been lucky with the blow, but not so with the bread. The bakery was sadly closed. But we did enjoy a relaxed meander through this quaint town (it’s pretty much one road with shops on either side). We munched on large foccacia’s in a nearby deli.

Next stop: Jervis Bay

Luxury at the Four Seasons Sydney

February 18, 2007

The Four Seasons Hotel Chain is renowned international as the luxury destination for many stars and political figures. The Four Seasons in Sydney is nestled in the Rocks a short walk from circular quay.

A friend of mine had won a voucher for a night’s stay at the hotel and I was the lucky one to go with.

Four Seasons Hotel
We were met at the front door of the hotel by the car park steward who removed our luggage and whisked off the car. Meanwhile, we had a quick check-in and then made our way up to our room. There wasn’t too much of a personal touch as far as accompanying us to our room or showing us around the hotel. The service had a brisk, business-like feel to it.

Our room emphasised the corporate feel of this hotel – browns, caramels and dark wood furniture in a more or less characterless room. Perfect for a good night sleep for a business person – not exactly suited for a romantic weekend away.

The Four Seasons View
The highlight without a doubt was the view from the room. I could have looked out the window the entire day – we had a unhindered view of the opera house, harbous bridge and the magnificent harbour which was dotted with yachts.

We did a self-tour of the hotel, stopping off at the spa where we made use of the gym. The spa equipped me with shorts, t-shirt, towel and earphones for the tv’s. Each treadmill had it’s own individual TV. However I kept on getting these irritating small static shocks in my ears everytime I plugged in my earphones. Grrr!!!

We then chilled out at the lovely pool and lounged in the jacuzzi (which was broken as the bubbles only last about 2 minutes at a time – one of the staff did come and apologise for this).

That night, we took a walk through the rocks to an Italian restaurant called Bel Mondo. The service here was excellent and the food and ambience was good. The dessert however was very disapointing (it was some chocolate tart thing which was more like  a stale cocoa cake).

We then topped off our night (literally) on the summit of the Shangri La hotel where we sipped on decadent chocolate cocktails and admired the city lights from the huge windows.

Brekki at 4 Seasons
The next morning, we went down for breakfast – which was an impressive buffet with a variety of yummy things. I had a mixture of cereal, fruit, some pancakes and English muffins.

Sadly we then checked out but spent the rest of the day on the Rose Bay ferry on a canoe. This was really lovely – although I was slightly threatened by the speed boats and humungous ferries that we shared the waterways with. Apparently, we had right of way as a canoe but I was still slightly dubious about the speeding vessels.

We canoed out to an island in the harbour (I think it’s called Seal Island or something like that) and then paddled back to shore.

My sexy new car

February 18, 2007

So I have a set of wheels. How exciting!

A couple of weeks ago, I walked into Toyota in Sydney with my mind made up I was going to get a 2nd hand Echo (which is similar to a Toyota Conquest but a much nicer shape). Anyway, they had a black Echo just like the one I was looking for but the price was over-inflated, especially taking into account that the Echo is no longer manufactured.

My new Toyota Yaris
My sister arrived and we decided to take the stairs down to the new Toyota section, where I met up with Jason – the salesman who had been trying to sell me a new car since I arrived here. Well, his persistence paid off ’cause about half an hour later, all the papers were signed and I was the proud owner of a black Yaris YR.

I am loving my car – it’s very sexy and sleek and goes so smoothly.

Take a look:
My New CarThe Toyota “What a Feeling Leap”

Chocolate Heaven at Max Brenner: Sydney

February 17, 2007

For chocolate lovers (like me), there’s chocolate heaven in Sydney which goes by the name of Max Brenner. This is a franchise which started in Israel and now has a couple of branches scattered over Sydney – like in Oxford Street, Double Bay and Manly.

Chocolate frenzyEverything about Max Brenner is chocolate – you can even get choccy soup. The speciality here is the sukao which is this egg-shaped ceramic container which holds a small cup filled with milk and is placed over a tea candle.  A bowl of choccy chips come with this and as you add the chips to the milk, the warmth from the candle melts the chocolate to make a very unique hot yummy drink. To top it off, you get a metal spoon with the straw on one end to help you shlurp up this hot choc.

I’ve also tried the decadent chocolate bombe and the absolutely scrumptious waffle which comes with molten Belgium chocolate and strawberries.

It’s not a place on can visit too often but when you do, it’s a real treat. 

Cousins at Max BrennerCousins at Max Brenner